Covid news live: Face masks will no longer be compulsory after this month, Cabinet

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UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Face masks will no longer be compulsory after Covid restrictions end on 19 July as England is set to attempt a “return to normality”, a cabinet minister has said

Speaking on Sky News this morning, housing secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed reports that enforced mask-wearing will come to an end after the so-called “freedom day”, with some restrictions, including face coverings, becoming a matter of personal choice.

Mr Jenrick said: “We are going to move into a period where there won’t be legal restrictions…but you will want to exercise a degree of personal responsibility and judgement.”

The minister later told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the success of the UK’s vaccination programme meant there was now “the scope to roll back restrictions and return to normality as far as possible.”

It came as newly appointed health secretary Sajid Javid wrote in The Mail on Sunday this morning that “the economic arguments for opening up are well known, but for me, the health arguments are equally compelling.”

He argued that lockdowns and other coronavirus measures had “caused a shocking rise in domestic violence and a terrible impact on so many people’s mental health.”

However, it is understood that government officials have been discussing the possibility of reintroducing baseline Covid restrictions for the winter.

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‘Return to normality as far as possible’ later this month, minister says

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has said that the government hopes to see a “return to normality as far as possible” later this month despite concerns about rising Covid-19 cases across the UK.

“We have been living now for 18 months with extraordinary restrictions of one kind or another,” Mr Jenrick told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show earlier today.

“It does look as if, thanks to the success of the vaccine programme, that we now have the scope to roll back those restrictions and return to normality as far as possible.”

He added: “We should all be prepared though that cases may continue to rise, they may continue to rise significantly but we do now have to move into a different period where we learn to live with the virus, we take precautions and we as individuals take personal responsibility.”

The minister was also asked whether the change from legal restrictions to personal responsibility could cause social tensions, as some people choose to continue wearing masks as others do not.

You can find his comments on that issue below:

Conrad Duncan4 July 2021 12:29

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More than half of all UK residents now double-jabbed, figures show

More than half of all UK residents have now had two doses of a Covid vaccine, according to the latest official figures.

Government data shows at least 33,602,136 people have had both vaccine doses, of an estimated population of 67,081,234.

When just adults are counted, more than 63 per cent of the population have now received both doses.

Conrad Duncan4 July 2021 12:11

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Business leaders urge PM to encourage people to return to the office

A group of business leaders has urged ministers to “set the country clearly on the path to recovery” by encouraging people to return to the office, the BBC has reported.

They said: “Our economic recovery will only succeed if the government commits to reviving our city centres.”

Current guidance tells people to work from home where possible.

The letter, signed by Heathrow and Gatwick airport chief executives John Holland-Kaye and Stewart Wingate, Capita chief executive Jon Lewis and BT boss Philip Jansen, said: “At this critical moment, we believe that it is essential that the government is unambiguous in its communications that when the stage four restrictions lift, public transport is safe, offices are safe, and working from home is no longer the default,” they said.

“Employers can then move forward with plans for new ways of working, considering the needs of their staff, clients and customers.”

ella glover4 July 2021 11:48

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Scottish Labour leader calls for wait time between vaccine doses to be halved, despite warnings against offering early second doses

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has called for the gap between first and second vaccinations to be halved to four weeks to deal with the “out of control” spread of coronavirus.

Mr Sarwar pointed to guidance from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which suggests that vaccines can be effective when the two doses are administered just four weeks apart.

“We need a plan now for dealing with this – and the clear route out of this is speeding up the vaccination effort,” he said.

“By cutting the waiting time between first and second doses, we can get people protected faster and ensure our response to the pandemic is keeping pace with the crisis.”

Yesterday, however, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that second doses…



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